Attacks on Education

Children's Futures at Risk

“The day the rebels came,” remembers 13-year-old Salif, “they destroyed the school. I saw them. They went inside the school. They went into the headmaster’s office and destroyed everything. They destroyed the students’ papers and folders.”

Salif* lives in Mali, but sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon in many nations around the world. The United Nations defines an attack as any intentional threat or use of force directed against students, teachers, education personnel and/or education institutions, carried out for political, religious or criminal reasons.[i] Nearly 50 million children and young people in conflict zones face these unnerving barriers to education every day, keeping them out of school and preventing them from reaching their true potential.

Quality Education for All Children

On July 12, 2013, youth delegates from around the globe met at the United Nations in New York City to fight for a quality education for all children, even those living in areas of war and conflict. They were joined by children like Malala, a Pakistani school girl and education activist whose only ‘crime’ was a desire to learn when she was shot and gravely wounded by armed men on her way back from school.

Sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon. The number of recorded attacks on education has increased in recent years. Global reports show these confrontations and acts of violence are widespread in a number of on-going conflicts. Based on UN data, Save the Children estimates that there were more than 3,600 separate, documented attacks on education in 2012.[ii]

Protect, Prohibit, Preserve

Save the Children is calling on world leaders to tackle this crisis and commit to the following:

  • Protect education by criminalizing attacks on education, prohibiting the use of schools by armed groups, and working with schools and communities to adopt local measures to preserve schools as centers for learning.
  • Cover the funding gap by increasing the current levels of humanitarian funding to education and progressively work towards reaching a minimum of 4 percent of global humanitarian funding.

To learn more, read our report, Attacks on Education: The Impact of Conflict and Grave Violations on Children's Futures.

[i] See Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), What Is an Attack on Education?; UNESCO, Education Under Attack 2010, Paris, 2010, see pg 23-28

[ii] UNESCO, Institute of Statistics and Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA-GMR), Schooling for millions of children jeopardised by reductions in aid, UIS Factsheet No. 25, June 2013

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